Science  23 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5670, pp. 499

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  1. Hubble in Hands of NRC

    The fierce fight over the fate of the Hubble Space Telescope now moves to the National Research Council (NRC). A 20-member panel led by Louis Lanzerotti, a solar terrestrial researcher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, will meet in a month to 6 weeks at NASA's request to assess changes on the ground that might extend the telescope's life and determine whether it makes more sense to service the orbiting spacecraft using the shuttle or a robot (Science, 19 March, p. 1745). Proposals will be limited by the safety constraints set by the Columbia accident report last year.

    NASA wants NRC to finish its work as early as July, but NRC officials say they haven't yet set a completion date. The diverse panel membership includes former NASA Administrator Richard Truly, former Space Telescope Science Institute chief Riccardo Giacconi, and astronomer Sandra Faber of the University of California, Santa Cruz.

  2. IRRI Chief to Resign

    Battling health problems, the head of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) plans to retire at the end of the year.

    A plant breeder from Texas, Ronald Cantrell came to the Los Baños, Philippines, laboratory in 1998 in the midst of administrative and fiscal turmoil. Although he wasn't able to reverse a decline in funding, from $45 million in 1993 to $27 million this year, he is credited with restoring morale and taking the first steps toward a strategic alliance with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico. “Cantrell provided the steadying hand, strong leadership, and intelligent management IRRI needed,” says Keijiro Otsuka, chair of the IRRI board.

    After undergoing surgery for a brain tumor in 2001, Cantrell was appointed to a second, 5-year term. But last week he cited “personal and health reasons” in announcing his resignation. A search is under way for his successor.

  3. Halfway House for Beluga

    Following an 11-week delay, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this week decided to list Eurasia's beluga sturgeon as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The move disappointed conservationists, who had urged a stiffer “endangered” designation for struggling stocks (Science, 26 March, p. 1955). Now, the U.S.—one of the world's biggest consumers of beluga caviar—has 6 months to decide how to regulate sturgeon egg imports, but agency officials say a total ban is unlikely.

  4. HHS Proposes Research Misconduct Rules

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is at last ready to adopt a new definition of research misconduct developed by the White House 4 years ago. In a long-delayed proposed regulation released last week, HHS also codifies a slew of changes to its misconduct policy over the past decade and proposes a few new ones.

    The dense, 27-page proposal published in the 16 April Federal Register rewrites the Public Health Service's (PHS's) 1989 misconduct rule. It adopts a 2000 decision by the Office of Science and Technology Policy to define federal research misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism,” known as FFP, and to drop a fourth “other practices” category long criticized as too vague (Science, 15 October 1999, p. 391). But the new definition also elaborates on FFP, which will now include plagiarism during review of grants or manuscripts, notes HHS Office of Research Integrity director Chris Pascal. HHS wants even reviewers without PHS funding to be subject to the rules.

    HHS is also seeking to revise its appeals process and the role of whistleblowers in investigations, and to create a 6-year limitation on reporting misconduct. Institutions, which have to comply or risk losing funding, have until 15 June to comment.

  5. Gates Gift Targets Academies For Three African Nations

    In the latest attempt to clone itself, the U.S. National Academies will receive $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to replicate its policymaking apparatus in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The money, to be spent over 10 years, will build capacity in three African countries to emulate what the U.S. academy does so well: convene expert panels to analyze the scientific evidence underpinning a policy-related issue and make recommendations to those in power. “Our long-term goal is to help each [African] academy become an effective, independent national voice for science,” says Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Seven or eight countries will vie for the opportunity to join the project, which will focus on health-related challenges. “We'll be looking for countries whose governments want to participate and whose scientists are ready to take this on,” he says.